Kimley's Reviews > Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
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Mar 08, 10

bookshelves: 19th-century, brit-lit
Read on March 06, 2010, read count: 8-10 times (?)

My parents gave me a lovely box set copy of these two works with the iconic Tenniel illustrations when I was about seven or eight years old which I still have to this day and which has survived several cross-country moves and multiple readings as a child not to mention several further readings as an adult. The box set is a little worse for wear but still a prized possession in my library.

I've mostly refrained from rating/reviewing children's books on Goodreads simply because my childhood critical expectations were in many ways different from my current expectations but at the same time I don't feel those childhood criticisms are any less valuable. So I just prefer not to try to judge a book with my adult perspective especially if it was something that brought me much joy as a child since I feel that pretty much trumps any adult hesitations.

That said, this is one of the few childhood books I have rated because I've read and enjoyed it several times both as a child and as an adult and it just never fails to delight. There is a richness to this book that works for both children and adults, for people of any age or intellectual capacity for that matter. It's a simple tale of adventure and wonder and a complicated mix of clever wordplay and existential angst and clearly an influence to many 20th century movements - surrealism, dada, absurdism. There's even a bit of self-referential post-modernism here.

And I think one of the things that I always loved most of all is that unlike most children's stories, there is no clear MORAL to the story. Carroll even pokes a bit of fun at the notion of moralistic stories. I'm sure you all remember as a child that you had to always look for the moral of the story. But nothing in Alice's world is so fixed and easy to decipher. Was she a bad girl to go down that rabbit hole? Should she have drunk and eaten all those curious food products that made her change size? Well, we're never really lead to believe that what she does is either bad or good. It just is. Much like life, most of the things Alice does are a mix of wonder and disquiet.

And all you Tim Burton haters can suck it! I haven't seen his Alice yet but I'm really looking forward to it. Sure, I know he's going to tell us how the Queen of Hearts was abused as a child, how the Mad Hatter is a coke head and the White Rabbit has aspergers but I don't care. I'm going to buy a giant bucket of popcorn that's bigger than my head and a jumbo box of junior mints that is sure to send my smallish frame into sugar shock and strap on those 3D glasses and sit there with a wide Cheshire Cat grin and thoroughly enjoy the visual feast that I'm hoping Burton has in store for me.
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by Eh?Eh! (last edited Mar 08, 2010 09:25AM) (new)

Eh?Eh! I'm going to buy a giant bucket of popcorn that's bigger than my head and a jumbo box of junior mints that is sure to send my smallish frame into sugar shock

I love this image, yeah!

So lovely that you still have cherished books from childhood. My dad had given away an old set of Korean folktales that was falling apart from my rough toddler handling. I couldn't read them but I'd loved the pictures.


Kimley Thanks Eh! Truth is, I rarely buy any of that movie crap food but it always cracks me up how everything is so freakin' jumbo-sized. It's just so very "Alice"!

That's so sad that your dad got rid of your beloved book. Parents just don't understand!!!


message 3: by Eddie (last edited Mar 08, 2010 09:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eddie Watkins That's too bad Eh!. I have cherished books from my childhood that have survived... until Twyla got her hands on them. She keeps tearing up my Little Bear, and I keep taping it back together.

I don't think I can handle another Tim Burton film. Even without junior mints they send me into sugar shock.


message 4: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy Agreed, I'd rather not see Johnny Depp hamming it up in yet another indulgent Tim Burton project. I adore this book though. I need to read it again, and soon. It always made me so happy when I was a kid.

Nice review, Kimley.


Eddie Watkins Tim Burton became too Tim Burtony.

I would like to check out one of these new 3-D spectacles though, and I'd probably opt for Alice over Avatar.


message 6: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy Good thing that, to my mind, David Lynch can never become too Lynchian, even though Inland Empire sort of crosses the line.


Eddie Watkins No way man. Inland Empire is a masterpiece. But I know what you mean.

I don't even think Lynch crossed the line with the "quinoa cooking" extra, but he did cross the line when he started selling coffee.


message 8: by Jimmy (last edited Mar 08, 2010 01:37PM) (new)

Jimmy I love it as well, but I'm still feel pretty lukewarm about his decision to only shoot using dv from now on.


Kimley Eddie wrote: "I would like to check out one of these new 3-D spectacles though, and I'd probably opt for Alice over Avatar."

The 3-D is actually pretty amazing. Try to go to an IMAX 3-D if you can. It really looks like you can just reach out and touch everything. My only complaints were that the glasses pinched a bit and I also occasionally found it difficult to focus on things like people's faces.

I had zero interest in seeing Avatar until several of my respected (ahem) friends on here were raving about it and so I finally succumbed (also curious about the 3-D) and it was such a snore. Visually, the world they created - the plants and the animals were amazing but not enough so for nearly three hours of boring characters and flat dialogue and an overly preachy story that made me want to smack all involved off their high horses despite agreeing with the gist of their message.

If you're not a Burton fan, I did see a preview when I went to see Avatar for a documentary shot from the Space Shuttle that looked really cool. I'd suggest waiting for that. Although maybe Twyla would like Alice!


Kimley I loved Inland Empire as well and while it may be too Lynchian, if you think about it, it's only chronologically too Lynchian. If that was the first Lynch film you'd seen, you would just say it was amazing!


Eddie Watkins Jimmy wrote: "I love it as well, but I'm still feel pretty lukewarm about his decision to only shoot using dv from now on."

That is a little selfish of him, I'd say. Sure it helps with the ease and flow of capturing his vision, but the final product lacks the visual richness and depth for us viewers to plunge into. - Within minutes of first watching Inland Empire I longed for Mulholland Drive. - But still, there's something to say for the rawness of dv that might even enhance the creepy unease of his aesthetic.


Eddie Watkins Kimley wrote: "Eddie wrote: "I would like to check out one of these new 3-D spectacles though, and I'd probably opt for Alice over Avatar."

The 3-D is actually pretty amazing. Try to go to an IMAX 3-D if you can..."


I can dig pure empty spectacle, as long as it remains basically empty. Doesn't sound like Avatar is content to be empty.

Twyla has seen the Disney Alice, and even the Svankmajer Alice, already. But she is far from ready to sit in a theater!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

This is a funny goof on Tim Burton: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:192...

Inland Empire is a great film. I remember watching a documentary on Lynch, which was shot while he was shooting Inland Empire, and the man looked really stressed out, more so than what was usual for him it would seem. I got the impression that the advantages of shooting in digital became a burden for him, since he had the inclination, no surprise, to just run with whatever that popped into his head and not be analytical about it. No stops or moments for reflection, just do, because digital video is cheap and fast. For his fans, it's totally untethered Lynch, which is awesome, but for him he had no idea what he was doing.


Kimley Wolfie wrote: "This is a funny goof on Tim Burton: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:192......"

Ha, nailed! That was pretty funny.

I'm still going to see Alice.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I like it when the one guy says he is going to take a dump. :)

I'll see it this weekend, probably. I'll let you know what I think. You should do the same!


Kimley I look forward to your review! I generally avoid films on the weekend especially the "blockbuster" variety and I usually wait for crowds to die down because I tend to go ballistic when someone starts talking on their cell phone but maybe. I am eager to see it!


message 17: by Sean (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sean These stories literally take place in Alice's dreams, which is why they are so strange and delightful. I recently read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for the first time and found them to be quite beautiful books. I'm now rereading them again because I couldn't get them out of my head and had to return once more. I also found that my own night dreams have become more interesting; and I seem to have more control over my dreams after reading these books. That is what these stories are about: a little girls lucid dreams.


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